Saria Lofton, a graduate of HSC's school nurse leadership program and a Chicago Public Schools nurse for three years, shared her unique perspective on the role of today's school nurses at HSC's recent breakfast briefing.
Lofton says she was happy to speak at the HSC event because “there are not a lot of voices for school nurses."
School nurses occupy a unique role in schools and, Lofton adds, "I wanted everyone to know that school nurses are underutilized and we have so much to offer; we are not only trained in child health. We deal with every aspect of health in addition to the physical. We try to help people before things happen."
In her speech, Lofton noted this disconnect between perceptions and the realities of school nursing. She explained:
When I begin to talk with people about school nursing, the first response I usually get is: 'I didn’t know they still had school nurses! Your job must be easy, dealing with paper cuts and nosebleeds!' I usually cringe when I hear that response and I begin to talk about the diabetic students I see, and the health plans I do, and the special education meetings I attend, and how I am the health expert of the school and yes, a small part of my job is handing out Band-Aids but it is much more than that. And with the help of HSC, I have found how much wellness can play a part in the work that I do.
In the future, Lofton says, she has even more hopes to encourage student wellness. "I would like a salad bar at one of the schools I work at and a nutrition program developed by the teachers," she says. "I would also like to start a cooking class."
The school nurse leadership program helped Lofton develop her own gift of leadership, she says: "The main thing I learned is that I have a voice and I need to use it to let everyone know what is going on."
View Saria's speech (below) and find out how Lofton used the acronym "SCHOOL NURSE" to spell out all the ways that the HSC school nurse leadership program helped her realize her potential as a leader.